Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lemonade Stand

The tartness of lemons is a perfect dance partner to the sweet of sugary treats.  Lemon based deserts are typically refreshing and hard to resist. Even in these hotter than hot days, anything lemon feels like a glass of relief!  Here's my top five lemony delights:

1.  The traditional Southern Lemon Bar
• 2 sticks (8 ounces) butter
• 2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
• 4 beaten eggs
• 2 cups sugar
• 4 tablespoons flour
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
• sifted confectioners' sugar

Heat oven to 325°. Blend butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Pat into ungreased 13x9x2-inch pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. For filling, blend together eggs, sugar, 4 tablespoons flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Pour over first layer. Return to oven and bake at 325° for 20 minutes. Loosen around edges, cut into bars and sift confectioners' sugar over the top while warm.

2. Lemon Crepes
Yes please!!!!!!
Way I make them:  I add a bit of lemon juice to the crepe batter.  I fill the crepes with a lemon yogurt cream that I make by whipping lemon yogurt with dream whip and adding fresh squeezed lemons.  I top it with grilled lemons (grilled in brown sugar).

3.  Lemon Custard
• Unsalted butter, room temperature, for custard cups
• 3 large eggs, separated
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest, (1 lemon)
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Butter six 6-ounce custard cups and place in a dish towel-lined baking dish or roasting pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until light; whisk in flour. Gradually whisk in lemon juice, then milk and zest.
3. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add to lemon batter and fold in gently with a whisk (batter will be quite liquid).
4. Divide batter among prepared custard cups; place baking dish in oven and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up sides of cups. Bake until puffed and lightly browned (but pudding is still visible in bottom), 20 to 25 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

4.  Lemon Shaker Pie
Cut 2 lemons as thinly as possible and coat with sugar.  Put that in the fridge for a few hours.  Cut two more lemons and coat with sugar.  Layer this on top of of the other lemons. Put it in a pie shell.  Brush top crust with egg whites, coat with raw sugar and a bit of cinnamon.  Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.  YUM!

5. Lemon Mousse
Empty contents of 1 Lemon JELL-O packet into 2 cups of whipping cream.  Whip on medium until well blended.  Chill.  Mix up 1 packet Dream Whip with some lemon zest.

For a sure-to-cool you down treat, try mixing up some lemon slooshes. 
Fun to make and more fun to make, lemon slooshes are basically lemonade blended with ice and topped with a juice of your choice (I love it with cranberry)! 
A mocktail that always makes me happy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

On Display

Kyle's artwork is being featured now at Kaya!

This mini-collection is called Simple Scenes with Blue and will be hanging in the Featured Artist spot for a few weeks.

Nine pieces to brighten the mood!




Check it Out!

Kyle with his work.
Love to see it hanging proudly! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

cuppa mo-Jo.

Even Mormon girls like a cup of Joe; we just take the Joe out of the equation.  The secret to an amazing cappucinno like experience is the flavoring. 
If you're like me and don't drink coffee but still want to "go out for a cup of coffee" or start the morning with a warm wake up, you'll be wanting to order a steamer, or as I like to call it: MO JO.
All it is is steamed milk and flavourings.... so choose wisely. If it sounds like it'd be a disgusting mix, it probably is!  Might I suggest NOT doing cranberry.  (seriously, just don't...)

So you're at home and you want to make a fabulous Mo Jo but have no steamer? 
Just boil some milk and add your extracts.

1 1/2 c. milk + 1 tsp. vanilla +  1/2 tsp. almond extract + a sprinkle of cinnamon + dash of nutmeg =
A lot of deliciousness

Try flavoring your Hot Cocoas, too!   Put a shake of mint extract, or a dash of cinnamon, or a 1/4 tsp. of butter into the mix.

You'll be saying YUM!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

A sure sign of the season, fresh strawberries are as versatile as they are cute!

Sure to be a crowd (or personal pallette) pleaser, these treats are easy to make.

1. Lite Strawberry Milkshake

Approved by weight watchers, and -more importantly- me, this version of a soda shop classic is easy and pretty healthy.
In your blender, mix 1 c. Skim milk with 8 strawberries.
Add 1 Tbs. sugar and 5 ice cubes.
Mix in the blender until, well, it looks like a milkshake!

 2.  Strawberry Shortcake Jellies

Let's thank Martha Stewart for these.  (Easiest recipe to follow, super cute, and majorly delicious)

3. Strawberry Butter (or Cream Cheese)

Kyle whisked about 4 Tbs. butter with a dollup of honey to create some delicious honey butter.  Then he thought strawberries would be delicious in this, too.  Adding 2 Tbs. homemade strawberry jam, he created my new favorite condiment.  
For french toast one Sunday Morning, he whipped some cream cheese with the same jam, added some chopped strawberries and, of course, a dollup of honey.  

4. POPS!
 10 minutes prep time is all it takes to make these delicious and refreshing treats!  Simply puree some ripe berries and add some powdered sugar to the mix.  Pour in a plastic cup and let the freezer do the rest of the work!

5. Strawberry cupcakes

Okay, so the cupcake is just a yellow cupcake.  If you want to use a mix, go for it!  Making it from scratch?  Here's a tip-- Use cake flour, but not the self-rising kind!
For the ridiculously decidant icing and filling, follow this recipe for Strawberry Merringue Buttercream:
A. In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).

B. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

C. Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir in strawberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

6. Strawberry Shortcake Cookies!!!
Make your favorite drop bisquit recipe.  But, to the mix add: 1/2 c. pureed strawberries, 1/4 c. strawberry jam, and 4 Tbs. brown sugar. 
Make them smaller than you would the bisquits, brush with an egg white, and sprinkle with raw sugar.

Serve warm with a dollup of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

7. Strawberry Cream Cake
Okay, so really, this is just angel food cake (or yellow cake if you'd rather, or a sponge cake...) layered with Dream Whip and Strawberries.

Want to make it Swedish, whip the strawberries and cream together before layering.

8. Strawberry Jam

Since many strawberry treats can be made with strawberry jam, it only makes sense to have a couple easy ways to make it on the list.

The easiest way to make jam is, of course, to make freezer jam.  The downside with freezer jam is that it doesn't last all that long after you take it out of the ice box.
You need to mix 2 c. crushed strawberries with 4 c. sugar. Add in 3/4 c. H2O and 1 pkg. of dry pectin. Pour into the jars and freeze.  (Leave it in the freezer until you need it)

My favorite recipe for shelf jam is also pretty easy.
Just dump about 6 c. berries into your blender and add 5-7 c. sugar (how sweet do you want it?).  Transfer it to a pot and boil it, adding the pectin as you go.  (*Note, I add a bit more pectin than the box says.  I think its too runny otherwise.)
Pour into the jars, put on a lid, and boil in your canning pot.  Voila!  Easy and delicious.

9. Strawberry Lemonade
Best lemonade recipe is my sisters.  Simply put your strawberries in your blender and puree them, add your water and 1 can lemonade concentrate.  Add some lemons and whole strawberries and you have a drink that's as pretty as it is delicious.

10. My favorite Strawberry Shortcake
I think that a strawberry shortcake is best sans shortcake.  I prefer buttery bisquits topped with strawberries, vanilla bean ice cream, more strawberries, whipped cream, and, well, more strawberries!

**Looking forward to the Strawberry picking season!**

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Antiquing Mid-Michigan

I'm sure that Flea Market Style and Martha would be so proud of me-- the way I've scoured most every shop in Mid- Michigan with a sign that says "Antiques".  Unfortunately, some of these shops must have mistakenly  picked the "Antiques" sign over one that reads, "Lots of Crap"!
But amidst the several dusty and dingy shops lie a few rays of Antiquing hope! Here's the top 10 within 45 minutes of Mt. Pleasant.  Make a day of it!       
1.  Bay City Antique Market on Water St., Bay City MI. 
  In Mid-Michigan, this is hands-down the best antique mall!  Wear comfy shoes, when you go, though-- the store is an entire block of rennovated buildings (3 stories!!)

2. St. Louis Tried and True Antique Mall
Right off of 127, this Antique Mall is the quintessential wacky Junk store.  Mixed with legitimate antiques, this is the place for vintage odditities.  Bizarre statues and busts, silly books and teacups mingle with antique furniture and odds and ends.  You might find the finishing pieces to your collection or you might just find something so random you can't live without!

  3. Weathervane Antiques right outside St. Louis

Situated in an old barn on 46, Weathervane Antiques is fun, though not my favorite.  Although there is a lot of junk, there are a few pieces here and there.  I always find something exciting, like  vintage stoves!    Watch out for the creepy doll room, though. 
4. Antiques and Friends in St. Johns
This open market-style mall has lots of neat finds!  Vintage linens, like aprons, shabby chic furniture, and lots of china are scattered throughout the whole store.  The rare and hard to find Halloween treats can be found amidst the vintage-looking country decor in the front.  Just like any antique market, though, you're sure to find something creepy and hideous, like the lock of human hair that has been on the shelves next to the hats for years.  Wonder why noone's bought that yet?


               5. US-127 S. House on the Hill  Treasures
This old boarding house 1/2 way mark is now a rennovated Antique market.  Packed to the brim with anything vintage or retro, you're sure to find a treasure here!  As a note, the rocking chairs upstairs often start rocking on their own. 

6. Americana Co. Antique Mall, Bay City
Not quite as enticing as the neighboring antique megaplex, the Americana Co. Antique Mall still packs a lot of punch.  Holding more retro than antique items, there's a toy for everyone, here.  Towards the back are toys for the kids, to the right are toys for the Handyman, and in the front window are toys for the avid basket and country decor fan. 

7. Adomaitis Antiques, Court Streeet, Saginaw
A different sort of Vintage adventure, Adomaitis Antiques is dressed to the nines with its vintage costumes and jewelry.  Treasure hunting has never been so glamourous!

8.  The Saginaw Antique Warehouse on Tittabawasee
The Antique Warehouse is a compilation of specialty shops aimed at bringing beautiful antique furniture and finds to Mid-Michigan.  Although not my favorite, the Antique Warehouse is a true gem.  You can (or should I say, will) get lost in there, so wear comfy shoes!


9. St. Germain's in Mt. Pleasant
Not as full or pretty as most of the others listed, St. Germain's does offer some good treats!  One can always find a new teacup or hat. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot else to be found.  Occasionally one can find a nice furniture piece or odd painting, but typically, the items are the same from month to month. 
       10. Antique Center in Mt. Pleasant
Okay, so once in awhile you might find a real antique here, but typically its just a junk store.  That being said, you can find lots of fun junk here.  Tacky necklaces and costumes, even tackier wall hangings, and really tacky dishes are their specialty.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Gnome Man's Land

When we take a second to re-think traditionally tacky, we're left with uniquely fashionable  and strangely reasonable kitsch.  Garden gnomes have always made me smile, despite my absolute abhorrence for most lawn ornaments.   Through antique and junk store explorations, we've found variety in familiarity.

While antiquing in Bay City, we found these little gnome candles nesteled in "snow".  At least their wicks can keep them warm.

In the same antique mall, we tripped over these gems.

Even hidden in the ferns and weeds, this stately gnome makes quite a statement with his red cap.

The fiery cap is the only give away that this lump of stone is actually a guardian of the flower bed.  In cognito?

In an online consignment shop, Olcha and Sven (really, that's their names) sit patiently.

After noting several more gnomes in our shopping and garden watching ventures, we can't help but think, "Who thought of the garden gnome in the first place?"  Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If Paper Dolls Could Talk....

One day, while driving home from Lansing, we noticed a large bilboard. 
Well, obviously, we pulled over to taste for ourselves...
1. Ithaca's Country Chef Cafe offers over 20 burger styles, all insanely delicious and noticably fresh.  Is it the world's most amazing burger as they so proudly tout on 127?  Well, it certainly is in the running!
*As a note, all burgers come with cole slaw, which is putrid.  Ask for it without!
               If paper dolls could talk, they'd tell you that there are some other dives in Mid-Michigan that you really should visit!

2. Downtown Mt. Pleasant is the place to go if you want an old fashioned milkshake done right!  In the front of the Downtown Drugstore, the Soda Shoppe has been serving up milkshakes and ice cream treats since the early 1900's.  The soda jerks will make you any flavor of shake, ice cream soda, or phosphate you want. 
*I used to be a soda jerk here and loved it! 
3. The most amazing spinach-artichoke dip I ever had was in Midland at Oscar's!  They serve this deliciously tempting appetizer with toasted Ciabatta triangles as opposed to the overly salty and not- so-delicious, stale chips that most restaurants use.  LOVE IT!
*Oscar's doesn't count as one of the hometown holes-in-the wall diners, but the dip is out of this world!
                4.A little further south, in St. John's main cafe (attached to the pizzaria), Grandma is boiling up her famous Chicken Noodle Soup.  Seriously, some of the best restaurant soup I've had.  The rest of the menu is pretty good, but the soup is worth writing about!!!!
5.Similar to what I imagine Heaven to look like, the ultra posh Sweet Boutique (in the Historic Downtown of Bay City) is the place to go for beautiful and decident chocolates and pastries.  One piece is very reasonable price; but who can stop with just one?!

6.Everyone in Mt. Pleasant knows that Stan's is the place to go for an inexpensive and delicious breakfast.  But, some friends have told us recently that the best place in the area to get a short (or tall) stack is The Diner.  Located on old Mission (going North towards the fairgrounds), The Diner is a little "hole in the wall", with apparently delicious food. 
7. A little more North, in Clare, the Whitehouse cafe serves up famous burgers and blue-plate-style dinners.  Thank goodness for the new smoking ban, though... The Whitehouse is "cozy", having a total of 6 booths, very close together.  Better like your neighbor.

8. Okay, we've all had tater tots.  Most of us have even had corn-dog bites.  But mac-n-cheese bites?
In St. Louis,  Frosty Cone, offers this uniquely delicious take on one of my comfort foods.  Great milkshakes and pretty good burgers, too.
 9. Finally, for one of the best (and greasiest, and messiest....)  hamburgers and a delicous milkshake, head over to Sanford to Ice Cream Downs!  Blink and you'll miss it, places like this are a sure sign of summer approaching!

Don't be mistaking.  Mid-Michigan has more than just cheap burgers and ice cream cones, but this time of year the ice cream stands'  OPEN signs just bring a smile to my face..

Monday, May 3, 2010

Shabby Showers

No more annoying shower games!! 
 That's what I was thinking when I threw together this shabby chic bridal luncheon for my dearest friend, Erin          
For such a small luncheon (15-20 guests), I thought that a large banquet table would best suit our purposes. 

                         Mismatched table cloths, skeleton
                          keys, candles and lots of flowers
                                       were used for decortation. 
In lieu of a pendant flag, I hung vintage-look
 Parisian and Flower seed postcards
with mini clothespins.  

               Lunch was delicious!
(Thanks to Kyle for making most of it ;) )  
On the lunch table, we had :
chicken salad pouffes
roast beef canapes
spinach and grape salad
crumpets and jams
fruit kabobs
and stuffed cherry tomatoes

On the sweet table, were:
merringe clouds with dark cherries
stuffed and dipped strawberries
key lime cream puffs
Oatmeal cake
Lemon dollups
& Chocolate Mousse cups

In lieu of the regular toilet paper games (*Sigh*),
we had a simple quiz about our bride and a spice guessing game. 
The guests were to bring a spice to stock the bride's spice rack; we just wrapped them up with pretty paper and we used our sniffers to try to guess what they were. 

 Sneezing aside, its a fun and simple shower game.

Being silly with Erin.
Love our dresses. 

Loving the shabby-chic, I wonder... Can I live like this all the time?